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Ferris Determined To Hold Onto 6 Jersey

Ferris Determined To Hold Onto 6 Jersey

Stephen Ferris is hopeful that he did enough against Canada on Saturday to convince Declan Kidney that he should retain the number 6 jersey for the remainder of the GUINNESS Series 2008.

Of Stephen Ferris’ five caps prior to Saturday, two of them were at number 7, one of them at 8 and the other two saw him come off the replacements bench.

The Canada match saw him selected at number 6, which many observers feel is the Maghaberry man’s best position and he did not disappoint on a wintry Limerick night.

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Ferris impressed enough to be voted the GUINNESS man-of-the-match and number 8 Jamie Heaslip was encouraged by his team-mate’s all-action display.

“Fez was impressive. He got on the ball, ran hard and was solid in defence,” Heaslip said after the 55-0 win.

“I can’t fault his game, it was brilliant. He’s really good to work with and I work well with him.

“He’s a strong man, a powerful man. He can run with the ball and he’s solid as well – he put in some really good hits.

“He reads the game very well. He’s an all-round good player and a lineout option as well.”

Ferris, who penned a new three-year deal with Ulster last June, has had his fair share of injury problems in recent seasons.

But with a clean bill of health and a retention of form, the 23-year-old could be about to establish himself as Ireland’s first choice blindside.

Speaking after the Canada encounter, he said: “It was very good to be involved in this first game. I think we got off to a great start in the first half and put the Canadians under a lot of pressure.

“With the early tries, we made life a bit easier for ourselves and we could play a bit more rugby

“Unfortunately the Limerick heavens opened and sort of tightened the game up a bit. But I thought we played well considering the conditions.”

Coping with the heavy rain showers added to the difficulty of negotiating a path past the 15th-ranked Canadians.

“At kick-off there, the weather was very good. I thought, ‘brilliant, we’ll be able to play a bit of rugby’,” Ferris admitted.

“But, 15 or 20 minutes into the game, the heavens opened

“It was tough work…very tough to hold onto the ball. But fair play to all the guys, we’ve done a good job.”

From a personal point of view, Ferris dubbed it ‘a good day at the office’ and he will be looking for more of the same should he selected for next Saturday’s meeting with New Zealand.

“I said to myself in the changing room before the game that I just had to go out and give it everything I have.

“I felt I did that for 60 minutes. I felt I slipped off there for a wee bit towards the end, just mentally slipped off.

“But overall, I thought I had a good day at the office and put my hand up for next week (against New Zealand).”

Pressed on whether his efforts against Canada will be enough to see him start against the All Blacks, Ferris was giving little away.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what Declan’s thinking.

“I’ll give it my best shot. I’d love to play against New Zealand, it would be a dream of mine.

“I gave it all I could (out there), got man-of-the-match and hopefully I’ll be able to do it all again next week,” he added.